Newsletter from Europe Issue 6/2002
Bashir Khanbhai MEP
(Norfolk and Suffolk)




MEPs in the European Parliament, Commission and Council meet in Brussels for three weeks every month. For just one week, more than 3,000 people - MEPs, their assistants, translators, staff of the Parliament, Commission and Council (including chauffeurs, ushers and catering personnel) move between cities. Every Friday before the Strasbourg session, 17 lorries loaded with metal trunks containing documents and personal effects travel 300 miles to Strasbourg - and back again seven days later! Yet another convoy transports mountains of paper from Luxembourg where the translation service and secretariat are based. At the end of this week, the buildings in Strasbourg are deserted for three weeks until the next session. This travelling circus costs the European taxpayers at least 100m Euros every year!

To most people in Eastern Region, the European Parliament is a remote and irrelevant institution. Our farmers, industries and businesses suffering from falling incomes and excessive EU legislation cannot accept waste of public money. The French cannot force the rest to use Strasbourg as the seat of Parliament – if they do then they must bear the full cost!



Prescott’s Local Government Bill intends to divide the UK into Regions as requested by the European Commission: Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England having 9 regions.

The Government claims that this White Paper is about the devolution of power. This is simply not true, as it will abolish our Metropolitan Councils

and County Councils, thereby eroding our national authority and Westminster’s scrutiny of the EU. British people want a Europe of nation states. They do not want a Europe of Regions with no national identity!”

In our Eastern Region, there are 57 MPs, 8 MEPs and County Council leaders of the major political parties in the six counties. They are all elected and paid for by taxpayers. They can assemble on a quarterly basis for public discussion of the major local issues with agendas well advertised in local papers. Adequate time should be given for the public to ask questions, submitted in writing in advance. This is real democracy at grassroots level and if Prescott is serious then he should offer such a cost-effective alternative – not more politicians, more bureaucrats and more taxes with less public consultation, less accountability and less transparency!



The cockle fishing industry in the UK is worth about £25m per annum. Many fishermen, ship owners, seamen, pilots, engineers, sea food processors, wholesalers and retailers depend on this work for their livelihood.

There is an EU draft Directive for testing for toxins in cockles. Such a test is conducted in different ways in Holland, Germany, France and the UK. Test samples of live cockles, previously taken once a month, are now taken each week from the beds. Transport and storage before testing must be identical to produce results that are comparable and reliable. The UK tests are too stringent and often give contradictory results to those conducted on the continent thereby penalising our fishermen from Kings Lynn and elsewhere as they are denied the right to fish!

It is unacceptable that continental cockles, tested using continental methods, are allowed to be imported for public consumption in the UK whilst UK cockle fishermen are denied the right to harvest cockles that would pass the continental tests but fail in the UK!

It is essential that the UK test is in line with the other EU Member States. UK cockle processors can then have independent tests from the same batch to verify the results from DEFRA analysts. Thousands of jobs are at stake throughout the UK, especially in Kings Lynn and Norfolk. The UK Government must act now!  



The European Parliament has passed a Resolution on testing of cosmetic products that strikes a good balance between our concern for animal welfare and safety of products. Use of laboratory animals for testing will be phased out over a defined period and there will be an ultimate ban on marketing of cosmetics tested on animals. Provision is made for tests to continue until alternate methods are available only for specific toxicity relating to cancer and reproductive health.

A specified time period for a ban on marketing will give industry time to find alternative testing methods that do not exist at the moment. Whilst we are all concerned about animal welfare, politicians must take responsibility to ensure appropriate legislation that protects the health of our citizens.



The European Parliament Report (Schnellhardt) on hunting wild game is seriously flawed.  It does not distinguish between private and commercial

activity as it defines the hunter as a “food business operator” and hunting as “primary production” The “production” must be subject to strict hygiene provisions such that game, given to a friend or local restaurant, must conform to all hygiene rules applicable to commercial food factories or slaughterhouses. All “processing” of game must be undertaken in a registered and “approved establishment” thereby making it impossible to pluck, skin or cut a piece of game in a kitchen. “Traceability” is required for wild animals and birds, even if the birds are migratory!  Any game handed to a friend or the local restaurant must be stored at 4/7 deg C and delivered to a veterinarian for inspection within 12 hours of being shot – unrealistic as most shoots are at weekends in rural areas!


Many shoots would be devastated with the consequent loss of livelihood and employment for many people living in rural areas. Such restrictions would discourage farmers from establishing small shoots to offer city people an opportunity to enjoy country life – diversification encouraged by the EU!  I believe that the current European “Directive on game meat (92/45 EEC)” that exempts small quantities of wild game supplied directly by the hunter to the consumer, including the local retailer, works very well and should not be replaced by a new restrictive directive.



17 May Visit to Norwich Bio-Incubator

17 May Postwick Current Affairs Evening.

18 May Visit - Native Yacht Company, Brundall.

20 May Parliamentary Dinner with John Major

24 May Meeting with Essex County Councillors

28-30 May EUW Visitors Group in Brussels

3 June Pharmacy Conference in Paris

4 June Pharmacy Conference in Brussels

7 June Visit to Copdock & Suffolk Show

9 June Essex Jubilee Service, Chelmsford  






 Promoted & Printed by Conservative MEPs in the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, Brussels: Khanbhai, Sturdy, Beazley & Van Orden